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« Countdown to the Emmys: Day 4 | Main | Soap Blog Coalition »

August 26, 2009

Our Latest Soap Opera Digest Column

My Take
By Mallory Harlen

In crafting their latest front-burner romances, both AMC and GH have decided to think outside the box. Since their "inside the box" thinking misses far more often than it hits, it's unsurprising that their attempts at telling unconventional love stories leave a lot to be desired. Namely, entertainment and couples worth rooting for.

David Canary (Adam) and Melissa Claire Egan (Annie) are two of my very favorite performers on AMC and in all of soapdom, so I understand the show's impulse to put them in a story together. After all, if you add their levels of talent together, you get a sum of awesomeness so great that it quite nearly distracts you from how bizarre their pairing really is. When Annie saved Adam, and Adam decided that he could honor Stuart's memory by taking care of Annie, I got excited for a potential platonic relationship, equal parts sweet and hilarious. The AMC in my head is far better than the one on-screen because we were immediately treated to passionate kissing. And while their age difference is, um, noticeable, to say the least, it doesn't rank in the top five reasons why this story makes me uncomfortable (it's definitely the sixth reason, though). Is Annie playing him or not? That's a completely rhetorical question, by the way, and one I'm not sure even the writers have the answer for. If she IS playing him, that's disappointing, as Adam Chandler should not get played by anyone, except for possibly Erica Kane (Let's all take a moment to mourn what looked to be a fantastic, promising Erica/Adam romance. Oh, what could have been!), and he should certainly not get played by a woman who became psychotic because Ryan Lavery dumped her. Adam is many things, but he's not that sort of chump.

Over in Port Charles, the writers are trying their best to give us a classic beauty and the geek storyline with Maxie and Spinelli, and I want to give them an A for effort. I'm sure it's incredibly difficult for them to devote so much time and buildup to a couple where the male half is merely a mob lackey rather than a mob boss, and where the female half is the daughter of a popular '80s supercouple rather than a mob moll. At least they're trying, right? But they aren't trying quite hard enough. Bradford Anderson and Kirsten Storms are both talented and do have a great deal of chemistry together, but their romance was rushed, their dialogue consists mostly of over-the-top mutual admiration repeated ad nauseum, and, well, I'm used to suspending my disbelief when watching soaps, but asking me to believe that Maxie would fall for Spinelli is simply expecting too much. It has nothing to do with his nerdiness; it has everything to do with the fact that he is the most irritating person on television. The tics and the elaborate nicknames and the belabored sentences comprised of a thousand words when a mere 10 would do were refreshing...until the end of his first full episode, and now it's more annoying than I can adequately express. I don't give Jason credit often, but the man carries firearms with him and he has never once shot Spinelli in a fit of irritation. If the entire purpose behind the creation of Spinelli was to get me to praise Jason, well...nicely played, GH.


My Take, Too
By Becca Thomas

Last I checked, soaps' target demographic is women. Now, I suppose it's possible that I and every woman I know are different from other viewers (that would certainly explain why Port Charles has become Mobville), but I think in this regard we're probably more similar than different. Seeing pregnant women in danger isn't appealing. I've never been pregnant, and truth be told, babies kind of terrify me, so this is not a personal issue for me. I just don't understand why soap writers keep resorting to the unappealing cliche of placing a pregnant woman in physical danger and, even worse, having them miscarry. If there is a lazier way to create "drama", I don't know what it is.

GH's powers-that-be haven't encountered a pregnancy in the last decade that they didn't need to seriously mess with. The latest in the long line of pregnant victims are Carly and Claudia (not to mention all the kidnappings and other hazards--including being stored in a tree during a blizzard!---that babies in Port Charles face if they're actually born. For real, someone needs to check the water in that town).

Claudia is an odious character, but that doesn't mean I wanted to see her suffer a miscarriage. Sarah Brown played it amazingly, but that's not justification enough for this unpleasant retread. As for Carly, I want Jax's first child to be with her about as much as I want bell-bottoms to come back in style, but now that she is pregnant I am hoping they actually have a baby. Odds are slim.

That Claudia or Carly would miscarry was obvious because of the unwritten soap rule that if two women get pregnant around the same time, one must have either a miscarriage or a stillbirth. Conversely, in real life, two women in a town can be pregnant and have babies simultaneously. I swear it's true; I Googled it and everything.

DAYS went down the same cliched path earlier this year with Sami and Nicole's pregnancies. And that led to not only Nicole's miscarriage, but to the relatively shocking storyline involving Grace's death. DAYS flat-out killed off an infant. I suppose the extended baby-switch drama has been moderately entertaining, but was having Grace die really necessary?

If soap writers can't help but put pregnant women and babies in danger and have at least half of the pregnancies end in tragedy, could I make the bold suggestion that they just have fewer characters get pregnnt in the first place? All these people are going to have unknown children with improbable backstories, and impossible conceptions pop up years from now anyway, so why don't we just skip the actual on-screen gestations altogether?

Comments

Mallory, thanks for being one of the first soap columnists to call out the Spinelli character. He is unbearable and I cannot for a second believe that Maxie has fallen in love with him. He has made me hate Maxie.

I hate the way soaps mess with children -- ESPECIALLY GH. They have a habit of going for the lazy route of causing havoc and drama. Need something to liven up the recycled storylines and bed hopping? Put a child in danger! It's like their fall back option.

They need a new playbook.

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